Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dark Side of the moon by The Flaming Lips (and friends)

I hate pink floyd. I've tried to like them and I just can't. Several years ago (maybe 10) I bought 'Dark side of the moon' but I jst don't like it for some ill-defined reason.

I like the Flaming Lips. I own most of their CDs and I've seen them live several times.

So, does the greatness of the Flaming Lips outweigh the shitness of Pink Floyd? Yes, thankfully. The Lips win out by bringing along Henry Rollins, Peaches and 'baby brother' band Stardeath and the White Dwarves for their version of 'dark side of the moon' which rocks. Freak out guitar, angry Rollins speak and distorted vocals mush together to eradicate the memory of a million 'hi-fideltiy' CD demonstrations using the Pink Floyd version. It's rather good, more than just a curiosity. I've been listening to it on spotify all week and I've listened to it twice since I picked it up in Monorail this morning.

The copy I picked up in Monorail is rather nice. It's on clear 'seafoam green' vinyl with a beautiful sleeve and comes with a free CD copy. An amazing artefact and sadly one of only 500 copies. A more available comercial release is coming out next month.

International record shop day

Sadly, record shops are in trouble. This is explained by several factors. The value that people place on music has changed. Almost any song that you would want to hear can be found and downloaded via the internet within 15 minutes. For someone who just likes a tune and isn’t interested in the physical artefact of a CD or vinyl LP a digital download is perfect and ‘free’. Record companies hate this as music is essentially worthless in this format and very easy to ‘steal’. Record shops lose out because they are removed from the equation completely.

If you actually want to own a physical artefact it is often less expensive and more convenient to purchase music on-line from Amazon. Amazon is generally well stocked and economically priced. Today, I was in a record shop trying to pick up some limited edition LPs that were available as part of record shop day. I saw a Galaxie 500 CD that I want to buy. In the record shop (Avalanche) it cost £8.99 while on Amazon it costs £7. It is economically impossible for a small independent record shop to compete.

So, we may not need record shops but should we have them? I like the record shop experience but I think they will only succeed when they offer a personalized experience. My favourite record shop is currently Monorail records located beside King Street car park in Glasgow (just opposite the thirteenth note). Monorail is run by Stephen Pastel and another really nice bloke who used to work in Missing records. The Mono complex also includes a coffee shop/vegetarian café and is a great place to hang out. I think it is also partially owned by members of Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian.

The great thing about Monorail is the staff who are friendly and helpful and music fans. When I have money, I sometimes buy something just to help pay for the privilege of being able to go to Monorail. It is such a nice experience.

Today I was able to but a copy of ‘Dark side of the moon’ by the Flaming Lips and ‘Hits are for squares’ by Sonic Youth, both on limited edition vinyl. I was lucky to get these records and I spent a long time standing in a queue to get them. I’m delighted that I now own these amazing musical artefacts although I don’t think one day promotions like this are the answer. I think friendly, bespoke service is probably the future and I hope shops like Monorail continue to thrive.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Malcolm McLaren - RIP

Malcolm McLaren was an important man in many ways. He helped to shape my childhood and my awareness of the early 1980s. Even though he treated the Sex Pistols badly he pushed them into the limelight. I can't really imagine lfe without the Sex Pistols and punk rock.

McLaren cast himself as Fagin and very much saw himself as the star of his own movie. He pretty much was the star of 'the great rock 'n' roll swindle'.

His own music was interesting. He nearly made a film with Alan Moore. He also managed the New York Dolls. He was married to Vivienne Westwood. His son is Joseph Corre who brought sexy knickers to millions with Agent Provocateur.

RIP Malcolm McLaren

I hope John Lydon writes an obituary

Simon Singh wins libel case

'I'm gonna sue you! I'll sue you in England!' - 'Tom Cruise' in South Park - The closet episode

British libel laws are draconian. British people don't really have freedom of speech or a free press. If you want to say something that a rich person disagrees with (even if it's just daft stuff about famous people) it is very easy for them to bankrupt you in an English court.

Laughing at famous people is one thing but these libel laws become very problematic when they are used to suppress scientific discourse. Simon Singh, a respected popular science writer, wrote about several non-evidence-based claims that some chiropractors had made. The British Chiropractic Association then sued him for libel. They could have bankrupted them.

Thankfully the nefarious ploy of the BCA backfired. Anti-libel campaigners systematically reported British chiropractors to advertising watchdogs resulting in numerous fines for BCA members (who became slightly dischuffed with the BCA). On the 1st of April a sensible judge kicked the BCA libel case out of court and Singh walked free. A victory for common sense, science and freedom of speech.

I was fairly happy.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Kick-ass the Movie

I collected all the individual Kick-Ass comics as they came out and I’ve been waiting to see this film for some time. It was worth the wait. The film is a massive ‘Fuck Off, You Cunts’ to the Daily Mail. It’s also highly entertaining.

Kick-Ass is a comic book film but it’s not for kids. It’s funny with some great character moments. It’s the story of an average school-kid who decides to become a superhero and gets beaten up a lot. He then becomes involved in a conflict between a couple of lunatics (Big Daddy and Hit Girl) and a gang of murderous drug-dealers.

The film is full of comedy violence and inappropriate swearing. It does jump the shark a few times, straying from creator Mark Millar’s vision of a ‘realistic’ superhero story but overall it’s great. Funnier than Watchmen. Worth seeing. The soundtrack was very good, making great use of remixed music from the the film Sunshine.

If you have seen the film, read the comic. It’s even better.

Glasgow Hinterland Festival 2010

This was my first visit to the Hinterland festival which I believe started up last year. The tickets were only £16 each which was great value. The bands were staged at several live venues around the city centre of Glasgow with the big acts playing in The Arches.

To be honest the only person that I was very interested in seeing was Jeffrey Lewis but I am always willing to experience new music. The first band that I saw in Ivory Blacks (the former Strawberry Fields) was Little Yellow Ukuleles, an extremely young looking group, who were competent if not exciting. I was wearing a Chumbawumba T-Shirt/Black Flag T-shirt that I’ve had since I was at school and I think my clothes were older than any member of the band. Scary thought.

The next band I watched was British Sea Power. I’m not in any way familiar with their stuff although I do know that they have something of a fan base. They just didn’t move me. They play competent, energetic indie rock but they said nothing new and their sound was fairly off-the-shelf. I didn’t hate them but I wouldn’t go to see them again or listen to their stuff through choice. Why listen to British Sea Power when you can listen to Philip Glass, Sonic Youth or Refused? Twenty thousand British Sea Power fans are shaking their heads in disgust…..

French Wives were much more exciting in every way. They are a funny looking (sorry) Glasgow indie band who seem to be mining a bit of a Nick Cave/Handsome Family vein. They have some bursts of brass instrumentation and they were showcasing a guest violinist who I hope stays with the band. Their last song sounded very like the Talking Heads and when I have time and money I will buy as many of their records as I can. A band to watch.

The final set that I watched was Jeffrey Lewis and it was definitely my personal highlight. I’ve been listening to his ’12 Crass songs’ record a lot for the past couple of years and I really enjoyed his Watchmen lecture thing at the GFT last year. This was the first time that I’ve been able to see him play music live and it was great. His songs are funny and philosophical. He’s fairly creative and he did a great audio-visual thing about the life of Sitting Bull and the plight of the Native Americans in the 19th century. It was much cooler than it sounds. He also performed an anti-mosquito gangsta rap thing and some other great folky numbers.

It was a good evening and well worth sixteen quid. If I can I’ll do it again next year.